When I moved into this Uptown Minneapolis apartment last October, I knew it was temporary, a stopping place while I looked for an over-55 community — the key word being community. It was clear to me that I’d have to find it once I was here. It was not possible to do in the space of a short exploratory visit.
My current apartment is beautiful but I am completely isolated here. There are apartment buildings that foster a culture of “get to know your neighbors.” This isn’t one of them. So, once things began to thaw in the spring, I started my search. There was one building I went to a few times: it backs onto a small lake and is near a nature preserve — but it also fronts on a busy suburban road with a Target on the other side of the street. And the only apartment I could have afforded there would have been rather small, and even then it was a stretch.
So, in April, I expanded my search to include regular apartment buildings and began looking in St. Paul as well. (It is remarkable how radically different from each other the Twin Cities are — definitely not identical twins.) In St. Paul, I found what seemed to be an ideal community, one with a spiritual component, a great location, beautifully designed property, reasonable rents. And an eight to ten year waiting list. “You’d better get on it right away,” the lady said. I’ll be too old, I replied. “Well,” she said, “maybe you’ll be ready for assisted living by then.”
On Friday, May 13, feeling increasingly hopeless, I sat myself down and asked the question I’d been afraid there was no answer to: If I can’t find anything here, where does my heart want to go?
I had been wrong about there being no answer. It came right away. When I was growing up, I lived in Manhattan but spent a lot of time near a town called Chatham in upstate New York (more about this another time). Chatham, is what my heart answered.
For a whole host of reasons, I knew I couldn’t move to Chatham but I also knew that Albany is a half-hour away. At this point in my life, living in a small town doesn’t make a lot of sense but living in a small city half an hour away from one of my heart’s homes does. The other home is the city (The City), a two and a half hour train ride away.
I’ll share more details as this unfolds but I wanted to let you know that the movers are booked to pick up on September 7th and, on the 20th, they will deliver my belongings to my new home in an over-55 Albany community.
Right before I left Seattle, my friend Stephen gave me a small carved stone eagle to help me stay strong and guide me home. I brought the eagle with me when I visited Albany last month. And when I found my new home, I took the eagle out of my pocket and put it on the kitchen counter. The eagle has landed, I said to the empty space. Not quite, but the image helps me keep the faith.